Dear Pastor, Do You Groan When You Think of Me?

Dear Pastor, Do You Groan When You Think of Me

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What does your pastor think about when he thinks about you? Does that question sound strange to you? Perhaps you belong to a larger church where your pastor does not know you. Okay. But there is a leader at your church who does know you. What does that person think about when he thinks about you? My question is similar to what goes through your mind when you think about a special person in your life, perhaps a child. What I want to know is whether you are a joy to your pastor, a great, soul-searching query.

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Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you (Hebrews 13:17).

Perhaps you belong to a church but have not committed to that church. If that is the case, I appeal to you to make plans for a more substantial commitment to that local body so that your pastor can provide the people and contexts you need to receive care. I realize some folks will make an argument about the lack of New Testament emphasis on church membership. I understand and do not necessarily disagree with the perspective. But think about this for a minute.

Regardless of your perspective on church membership, does the person who exercises spiritual authority over you at your local church groan or expresses joy when he thinks about you? The writer of Hebrews tells the local church members to let their pastors care for them with pleasure, not groaning. Unfortunately, in our modern buffet-style mentality, many Christians do not have a healthy, vibrant, and committed tethering to their local churches. Local church commitment for some folks works as efficiently as friending and unfriending on Facebook.

I commonly counsel people with low views and small commitments to their local churches. This kind of low view of the church invites sin into their lives because they miss out on a church’s body-to-body ministries. It’s not unusual to find a connection between low church commitment and personal or familial dysfunction. Paul wrote most of his letters to local churches. His appeals for sanctification were not primarily to individuals but local churches. You can draw an accurate assumption from Paul’s writings that Christians belonged and were committed to a local church. That is not true for too many people in our day.

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Three Church Goers

The Under-Committed: If you attend a local church, but your commitment is not active in that local church, I appeal to you to determine if your current church is for you. It might not be. But if it is the right church for you, please commit fully if you have not. One of the ways you can do this is by allowing them to care for you with joy, optimism, and gratitude. When I pastored, I found it especially difficult when someone came to our church but would not commit to it. It’s like going into marriage with one foot out the door.

Minor to no commitment to a local church is akin to a man who cuts his leg from his body while assuming it will survive. Or perhaps it’s analogous to a divorced dad trying to parent his children every other weekend. Even if he wanted to parent his kids well, he would still be a part-time dad. These illustrations are self-sabotaging and abnormalities, but some Christians do not see anything wrong with spiritual disconnectedness from their local church.

The Committed: If you have a high view of the local church, evidenced by your consistent commitment to it, do you let your pastor care for you with joy? How do you know if he is full of joy or full of groans when he thinks about you? How about if you ask your spiritual authority how he thinks about you? This kind of feedback gives you an excellent opportunity to serve your pastor, draw closer to each other, and cooperate together in impacting the rest of the body.

Imagine if your child came to you and asked similar questions. Imagine if your child desired to bring joy to your life. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Your pastor would feel identical if you sought to step up to that personal responsibility by asking these questions. The local church is like a “spiritual hospital.” It is the God-ordained context where God’s people can find spiritual help in their time of need. However, the local church is the sum of its parts, and if there are “parts” who don’t commit to the local church, those “parts” will weaken the entire body.

The Free Radicals: Free radicals are molecules that cause aging, tissue damage, and possibly diseases. These molecules are unstable. They look to connect with other molecules so that they can collectively destroy the vigor of the body—a detrimental process. Don’t be a free radical. The uncommitted church attendee appears to be part of the local body but is not. Make your local church healthy by fully committing to it.

If you need to reconsider your church because you’re not sure it’s the right fit, please type the word church in our search feature. We have scores of articles on the local church, including what to look for, how to leave, spiritual abuse, and so much more. Finding the right church is not a simple process, but it’s worth the effort, and if you find it, jump in with both feet. The local church is the dearest place on earth besides our homes.

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Call to Action

  1. How would you rate your commitment to the local church? Why did you answer that way?
  2. Will you pray over Hebrews 13:17, asking the Spirit to provide insight about you and your local church? What do you sense the Spirit is saying to you?
  3. Will you share this article and your “prayer thoughts” with your pastor or nearest spiritual mentor?
  4. Will you ask that person what they think about when they think of you?
  5. Specifically, ask them if you are a joy to care for and lead.

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